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Bishop: Churches cannot house illegal immigrants

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/09/17


Roman Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci said Friday the Diocese of Manchester will not allow illegal immigrants to take refuge by living in its churches. In a letter to clergy, Bishop Libasci said the church cannot provide protection from government authorities; that could subject church officials to criminal prosecution and fines for harboring those not in this country legally. “We have not designated our churches as ‘sanctuary’ churches in this sense of the word because it creates a false hope to tell individuals living in fear that we can protect them from law enforcement actions,” Libasci wrote. “‘Sanctuary’ is not a designation recognized by law and provides no such legal protection.” The letter came two days after St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish, a Manchester Catholic church with a large Hispanic membership, declared itself a sanctuary church, according to its pastor, the Rev. Joseph Gurdak, a Capuchin Franciscan. Earlier last week, Gurdak said parents who fear possible deportation have provided notarized instructions to him and his staff. The paperwork spells out family finances and who should care for their children in case parents are picked up. Many illegal immigrants have children born in the United States, which makes the children citizens, he added. Gurdak could not be reached Friday to respond to the bishop’s letter. Eva Castillo, executive director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, said she expected that response. “It’s sad the Catholic Church is taking this position, but it’s not surprising,” Castillo said. “I grew up Catholic and, when it comes to issues such as this, they are happy to offer money and support but they aren’t willing to put their faith into action.”

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Photo: Twitter

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